Heat Wave Drives Up Temps and Energy Demands
Texans are enduring scorching hot temperatures upwards of 110-119 degrees Fahrenheit, making it one of the hottest places on Earth. Due to high humidity, the heat feels even hotter and forecasters predict the heat will expand north into the plains and from the west coast to the Gulf Coast. Texas is experiencing a heatwave that is caused by a “heat dome” phenomenon, where high pressure traps dry, hot air, causing the heat to sink to the surface and preventing clouds from forming.
As the heatwave continues, many cities are taking proactive measures to cool their streets down. This year’s heatwave is made more untenable because temperatures are not cooling down enough at night. Heatwaves can be particularly difficult for city-dwellers due to the “urban heat island” effect. Low-income neighborhoods often lack trees to mitigate the urban heat island effect, creating poor air quality, local climate change, crime rates, and other challenges.
Austin, TX laid out a climate resilience action plan in 2018 that included strengthening emergency response and future-proofing new facilities and infrastructure. It also developed an urban forest canopy to ensure cool outdoor spaces. The city found that people living in historically redlined neighborhoods face higher levels of outdoor heat stress compared to their counterparts in non-redlined areas of the city. Other measures include installing green roofs and walls, painting streets with cool pavement coating, and providing air conditioning units for vulnerable individuals.
While planning for heat is not as well-developed as planning for other hazards, such as flooding, there is a growing recognition of the need to address heat as a visible and universal threat. Austin officials are developing a new resilience plan with a focus on heat mitigation. Austin is working with community organizers to map out the city’s hottest areas, drive community engagement, and propose solutions for heat management.
MEDformance delivers energy management solutions that can reduce energy waste in commercial, industrial, and institutional buildings by 13-43%. More emphasis will be given to energy waste reduction as grid capacity is tested by the demands of round-the-clock air conditioning.